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First Impressions: SO/ Hotel, Auckland better than so – so.

First Impressions: SO/ Hotel, Auckland better than so – so.

As a still practising (when will I have it mastered!) graphic designer, I know that introducing unusual punctuation characters to a brand, can be a triumph, or a tragedy. Prepare yourself for the newest lifestyle brand from Sofitel.

For a start they have competing slogans for this brand:

LIFESTYLE HOTELS BURSTING WITH LOCAL ENERGY

and . . .

playful luxury addresses for a rebellious lifestyle

. . . appearing on the same page of the website:

Copywriting by stringing together ‘now’ words some researcher picked up from a focus group.

Lifestyle‘ and ‘playful‘ should have trigger warnings

To me, this usually means badly placed fittings, things with corners that will attack you in the dark. Less than useless amenities. ‘Fashion-led’ as an excuse for bad service. Things you take for granted missing from the room – like a light you can actually use for reading, and a desk that you can actually use to work at.

For a ‘lifestyle’, ‘playful’ and ‘fashion-led’ hotel, this heteronormative nomenclature, is just a tad jarring against the ‘brand’.

But despite all these easy targets, this hotel scores quite well (did you see what I did there with the sporting analogies? – yep, like this brand – too clever by half.)

That slightly psychotic swirl is a consistent motif in the rooms and the hotel. In this case teamed with a contemporary leopard print

I like a recurring design theme

There is a consistency in the branding of this hotel which I appreciate. The psychotic swirl appears on a lot of the fabrics in the hotel from the lining of the wardrobes and cushions, through to the T-shirts of the staff (in different colour ways).

Brand is no substitute for Lux

And this brand has learnt that lesson. The rooms and the hotel look expensive and lux. Its no ‘look over here’ to divert your attention from some cost-saving compromise. They have spent money here, and it shows. With all my hackles up – I was convinced and genuinely liked this hotel.

Young, talented, enthusiastic, and well trained staff

The staff here could not be more helpful. Everything from my call at about 1:00 am on my first night ‘Sorry, but I can’t work out how to turn off the Television?’ (Answer the remote should be on your bedside table, and if not there on the coffee table near the lounge. – It was) – to advise on the best time to leave for the airport and the most efficient taxi service.

My room was made up in the time I requested, my burger came as I ordered it, and all my interactions with staff were positive. Couldn’t fault them.

Bed with requested feather pillows, slippers, and psycho swirl branded cushion

Take out

It may be Auckland’s newest hotel, but it is no novice at service and hospitality.

I hope to have a full review out in the next couple of weeks.

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